Get ready for a nation of healthier kids! Yesterday First Lady Michelle Obama, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, and chef Rachael Ray visited an elementary school in Virginia to announce new nutrition standards for schools around the country.

I applaud the efforts of the government in limiting calories and sodium and upping the variety and amount of fruits and veggies being served to our kids in schools nationwide. Governmental change in standards is the first step toward a nation of healthier kids.

Kids may have trouble making the switch to the healthier guidelines, especially making the switch to less salty foods. But studies show that cutting salt by as little as a teaspoon a day will prevent 92K deaths, 99K heart attacks, and 66K strokes in the U.S. alone (Bibbins-Domingo, 2010). With kids eating lunches and sometimes even breakfast at school, starting the switch to foods lower in sodium early on in the school years will ultimately make for a healthier nation.

Regulations for school meals as they stood before were not normal. Serving well-rounded meals to kids in school will normalize healthy eating habits that are important to living a healthy and active life. These new standards partnered with peer-to-peer encouragement should make the transition even easier. As a teacher of young people at NYU, I teach with a positive message around eating healthy and encourage them to share that message broadly (in their own words) with their peer group. Eleven year old Remmi Smith is doing just that! As Sodexo’s National Student Ambassador of Health and Nutrition, one of Ask, Listen, Learn’s SuperStars, and host of her very own show, Remmi encourages her peers to have fun in the kitchen by cooking delicious and healthy meals. Check out her “Healthier Ingredients” PSA.

Learn more about the changing standards of nutrition in schools in this article via USA Today

Carley Graham Garcia
National Advisory Board, The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility
Adjunct Faculty, New York University School for Continuing and Professional Studies